The Jacksonville Jaguars are going into their regular season game against the Green Bay Packers with a measure of uncertainty surrounding the team. How will a defense that features more new players than returning ones perform together? Can Jalen Ramsey live up to the confidence he's espoused this week? Will Malik Jackson prove he's worth the more than $80 million the team threw at him?
We'll have some clarity at the end of the game, but here are some predictions about how the regular season opener is going to play out.
1. T.J. Yeldon has twice as many touches as Chris Ivory
Gus Bradley said Ivory's injury wouldn't affect the running back rotation and I believe that. But if you watch how teams have attacked the Packers in regular season openers, it tends to lean towards Yeldon's skill set.
For example, last year the Chicago Bears used Matt Forte for designed, short-yardage check down passes and ran in the middle of the field while opting to pass in the red zone. I think the game script will go Yeldon's way and Ivory will be used as more of a specialist rather than a true 50-50 split.
2. Jalen Ramsey won't give up a touchdown
Aaron Rodgers loves 50-50 deep balls and does it often to the receiver lined up in the slot, primarily because the Packers No. 3 receiver is usually better than an opponent's No. 3 cornerback.
Not so this week. The only reason Jalen isn't the outside cornerback is because it's so early in the season. If this were a Week 10 game and Prince Amukamara (who will likely play the slot when Jalen is ready to go) were in the slot, it could spell trouble. Jalen will get tested early, but he'll pass.
3. Malik Jackson has a multi-sack game
I know, I know... this isn't the role the Jaguars had in mind when they signed Malik to that monster free agent deal this spring. He's an interior rusher who prevents quarterbacks from stepping up into the pocket and allows others to clean up. But I wonder if defensive coordinator Todd Wash pairs either Dante Fowler or Yannick Ngakoue with Jared Odrick to set the edge at certain points in this game and turns the pass rushing responsibility over to the 3-techs.
After all, Lane Taylor is an inexperienced lineman who, if you're going to attack on defense, why not use your best position group in your interior defensive linemen?